Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A non-commercial break

My blog seems to have been taken over by my never-ending anecdotes about my trip to London. So, I'll talk briefly about my happiness over the withdrawal of "Freestyle" from the CBC Radio One afternoon schedule in Toronto. It was replaced about a month ago by "Q", an arts show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, whom I loved during the run of "The National Playlist" and his stint hosting "Sounds like Canada" last summer. Needless to say, I am thrilled.

I never had a chance to rant about "Freestyle" when it was still on the air in Toronto and now that it is off, it feels a little late. Yet, I'm going it off my chest and hope that CBC mines the internet for criticism about their past mistakes.

1. Original hosts Cameron Phillips and Kelly Ryan sounded like they disliked eachother. To be more accurate, Kelly sounded like she thought Cameron was a moron. Typical Cameron and Kelly banter went like this (made up at the top of my head):
Cameron: I enjoy drinking a slushee really fast so that I get a
brain freeze. What about you, Kelly? Do you do that much?
Kelly: No, I can't say I do.
Cameron: What about when you were a kid? You used to do
that, right?
Kelly: No, I knew better, Cameron.
(Uncomfortable chuckling from Cameron)
Kelly: Speaking of brain freeze, here's the latest Avril Lavigne
Maybe Kelly's news background made her feel that she was above light, afternoon banter. In the end, she left "Freestyle" to return to news and was replaced by Marsha Lederman who is clearly more willing to join in on Cameron's silliness.
2. More than half of "Freestyle" consisted of easy listening radio. Exactly why CBC would feel a need to wade into the same waters as commercial radio is beyond me. I listen to CBC radio to avoid commercial radio.
I still remember the day CBC management came on "Ontario Today", then hosted by Alan Neal, to announce that "Ontario Today" would end broadcast in Toronto an hour early to make way for their new show, "Freestyle". As the suit droned on and on about markets and surveys, it was hard to ignore Alan's contempt, even in his brief questions.
Alan moved on to "Fuse," a music show, a bit later and I miss him. His mild voice usually led politicians and other guests he interviewed into a false sense of security. Then he would whip out a nasty question and not let up until the interviewee was clearly sweating through the phone. Hilarious!
Jian is back. Now, if only they would get Alan Neal his own show: a mash up of pleasant current events and public humiliation for the deserving.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

London Called - Part 4

Day 4 - The South Bank
Looking back on our itinerary, we realize now that maybe we stuffed too much into each day. At the time, we were puzzled as to why were so tired and cranky. Yet, we understood enough to slow down on Day 4.
We started with a leisurely speed walk to the Tate Modern. I had dreamed of going to the Tate Modern, having seen photographs of an amazing installation by Louise Bourgeois in the Turbine Hall back in 2000 (seen above).
Unfortunately, our timing was terrible. The Gilbert & George exhibition has just closed, leaving the Turbine Hall completely empty and partially inaccessible. In the smaller galleries, the collection consisted of mostly paintings from the early to mid 20th century. In retrospect, it makes sense that the Tate Modern should feature 'Modern Art'; I had confused 'modern' with 'contemporary'.
One of the only things that brought my spirits up at the Tate Modern was a piece by one of my favourite artists, Maurizio Cattelan . Ave Maria (seen below), a piece commissioned by the Tate Modern, was on display side by side with some mid-20th century paintings. Photographs were not allowed but I had regretted not taking photos during our visit to St. Paul's and now decided to thumb my nose at the rules.
The other thing that made the trip to the Tate Modern worthwhile was the restaurant. After eating on the cheap for the duration of our stay so far, we decided to splurge on lunch. No matter how many photographs and movies I took, nothing could capture the view of the city from the floor to ceiling windows. I had the lamb and Joe had the fish, then we had some dessert. The bill came out to ₤50, which we were happy to pay because we had reassured ourselves that we would eat fast food for dinner and that we were celebrating my birthday, to come in a couple of months.
We left content with food but ready to piss on the Tate name as both the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern had disappointed us.
We walked on along the Thames and came across the London Eye, the gigantic ferris wheel. Londoners had been tricked into believing the tourist trap would be temporary but it has become the #1 attraction in London and hence, it is staying put. We decided to skip the London Eye due to the massive lineup and the price. Also, we had gotten a great view of the city from the stop of St. Paul's Cathedral, and with less congestion.
We made our way past Cleopatra's Needle and marveled at the shrapnel marks that still remain from World War I bombing that just missed the 3000+ years old obelisk. We then decided to make a run for The National Gallery, even though closing time was a mere hour and a half away.
It turned out that the National Gallery was kind of boring with the usual array of grandiose and pretty paintings that people usually consider "real art". Trafalgar Square outside the National Gallery was packed with tourists and pigeons but I enjoyed Marc Quinn's Alison Lapper Pregnant (seen on the right), which is supposed to be a temporary exhibition but has been on site since 2005.
We sped through the Gallery in record time then rushed out to the sides streets of Oxford Circus to do some windowshopping. We particularly enjoyed a Japanese store that featured simple and stylish objects for travel and everday living. When the shops closed at 7pm, we returned to our hotel, relatively sore-free.
End of Day 4.